Collaborations between Topography and Architecture
At the beginning of a project, an architect meets either a terrain or slope. Flatland that redounds to its creation seems to accept everything like white paper, but I prefer a slope. When I arrived at the site for the first time after the design had been requested, and when the land maintains its original shape an imaginative surge begins in my head.
'Natural' here means the naturalness of relation, not of the land. It also means slight changes in the lay of the land that manage to retain its original form, and its changing relationship with its surroundings. It is the same with the Nursery School of Siheung 3-dong and Naver Imae Nursery School.
500 square meters of Siheung-dong land is organised into a combination of a small house bordering a road and a bigger house separate from the road. The land, which allows a small crack to enter from the steep slope, is lower than the neighbouring land and is surrounded by a breast wall.
However, the nursery school became a single-story house because the entry is connected with an elevated road. The external appearance, fitting to the scale of the narrow alley in a residential area, has been created organically. Classrooms for infants are on the second floor near the entrance, and the preschoolers, who are more active than infants, are on the first floor.
The first floor has a side playground so that children can enjoy the vast play environment. A typical nursery school composition, which places the infants' room near the entrance and the preschooler room on the second floor, means a lack of accessibility for a preschooler. However, the opposite approach was adopted in the Nursery School of Siheung 3-dong, to organize a convergent architectural space against complicated exterior environment. The fatal weakness of the land was used as an advantage in this nursery school instead.
The slope of the Naver Imae Nursery School is much more drastic than the land of Siheung 3-dong. The slope begins from a road at the front and stretches deep into the land, connecting with a hill at the back of the site. It is a naturally green district, so we could use only a portion of the wide land, but this was no longer a limitation on the sloping land. There are three buildings on the site, but they have been connected to each other underground. In the nursery school, placed naturally along the slope, playgrounds where hundreds of children can play have been devised on every floor. Safe play spaces surrounded by soil and trees have been constructed, instead of constructing a precarious playground on sloping land, and every floor except the top floor are escape floors. The combination between three-leveled land and three buildings creates nine exterior spaces. The size and shape of those spaces are varied, so it gives children an opportunity for a varied play experience.